In recent years there has been - and continues to be - a massive expansion in the number of information-and-communications-technology-for-development (ICT4D) projects (telecentres, ICT-enabled microenterprise, public service kiosks, e-government initiatives, e-health projects, ICT-in-education, etc) in developing and transitional economies.
Successful oversight of these projects requires "ICT4D champions" who possess a combination of technical competencies (e.g. information systems skills) and contextual competencies (e.g. development skills). Such a combination is, as yet, rarely found. This has resulted in a high project failure rate, and a recognition of training need.
This programme, therefore, aims to create the "ICT4D champions" who combine the necessary skills to see ICT4D projects through to sustainable delivery of development goals. At the end of the programme, participants will have been provided with:
-conceptual frameworks to understand the process of socio-economic development and the role of information and of ICTs in the development process; and
-new knowledge and skills to help in the effective planning, development, implementation and management of ICT4D initiatives
A unique feature of this MSc programme is the inclusion of a period of overseas field visits. The costs of this are included in the programme fee, and it provides a range of real-world experiences of implementing a variety of ICT4D projects. It provides a crucial link with classroom concepts, and exposure to a variety of real-world "ICT4D champions" with whom to discuss organisational and career issues. The overseas visits are supplemented by presentations from external speakers involved with ICT4D.
Study fellows must complete four compulsory core modules (two of which are alternates depending on the participant's choice of implementation or management focus), four optional modules and submit a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words.
Core programme course units are:
-ICTs for Socio-Economic Development
-Planning and Managing Development
-Introducing Information Systems in Organisations OR
-Issues in the Management of Information Systems
Optional course units may include: Economic Development; Perspectives on Development; eGovernment; Fundamentals of Information and Information Systems; GIS for Social Analysis; Microfinance; NGO Management and Strategy; Poverty and Livelihoods; Development Research Skills; Organisational Behaviour; Characteristics of Development Practitioners
The development of technical computing skills is not the primary aim of the programme but a number of opportunities are provided for participants to strengthen their IT skills:
-Introductory "hands-on" workshops within the School.
-A wide range of IT skills workshops provided throughout the year by the University's IT Services division, including the European Computer Driving License, high-level office automation skills, Web authoring, and programming (e.g. Java, C++, VisualBasic).
-In addition, some MSc ICT4D modules contain IT workshops and small practical information systems projects.
Progression and assessment
Each course unit generally requires two shorter or one longer coursework assignment. For core units, assignments typically relate to key real-world ICT4D, development or information systems issues. Some course units may have an examination component.
Participants must also complete a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice approved by the Programme Directors. Study fellows are encouraged to base their dissertations on topics of direct professional concern to themselves.
In Summer 2007, the School of Environment and Development moved to new purpose built facilities. The Arthur Lewis Building provides excellent resources including analytical laboratories, studio facilities, workshops, seminar rooms, an on-site cafe and dedicated computer clusters including GIS facilities.